Update Your Space in One Afternoon

I had the opportunity to sit down with Birmingham design expert Lisa Caldwell Flake for a story in Portico Mountain Brook. Lisa has a stunning sense of style, and she comes by it honestly. Her mother, Mary Ruth Caldwell, is a designer, too. The mother-daughter team at Caldwell Flake Interiors works to uncover the character of a home and then express that unique character through the people who love to live there.

Lisa is known for adding exciting pops of color to the rooms she styles. “I always say I like to have a ‘wow’ in each room,” she says. “I like for you to know that I’ve been there, but it’s still my client’s house. I want them to be comfortable living in it.”

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Inspiration can come from anywhere, Flake says. An iPhone snapshot from a Santorini vacation— where whitewashed houses cling to cliffs above a sparkling blue Aegean Sea–was the inspiration for her own living space, which juxtaposes bright white with a spectrum of brilliant blues. Two huge and stunning cobalt blue Moroccan vases shine on the dining table. There are vibrant splashes of turquoise in a large abstract painting by Atlanta artist Cynthia Knapp. Rich sapphire art glass from Prague sparkles like a fantastic jewel on a small table across the room.

We can’t all create a room like that, but Lisa did give me three quick, inexpensive tips for updating your own space in as little as one afternoon:

  • The easiest way to freshen up a house and make it look more current is to update lamps and pillows.  “Spend your money there,” she told me, “because you don’t have to spend a ton to make it look better.”

    In my own family room, I’m enjoying these pillow covers from Pottery Barn. The sofa is from there, too. It’s covered in the company’s Performance Everydaysuede, which is awesome. Nothing sticks to this fabric–even bicycle grease (don’t ask) comes off with a little diluted Dawn dish liquid. Richard Parker’s fur just wipes right off, too.
  • Clean up the bookcases. Consider arranging your books by color.  Then use extra space on bookshelves to display a few things you really like. Start with something big, and then remember that less is more, she says “One big bowl looks neater than a lot of little things.”  
The books in my library look like literary wallpaper now. I only kept a few extra items mixed in.
  • Don’t let a collection become clutter.
    I put a small collection of wooden canteens, gathered during a trip to Turkey, on the mantel in the family room. They are an unusual reminder of an amazing trip.

    If you have a collection of something, don’t scatter it all over the house or even all over a room. Group those things together in one place, Flake says. “Display your collection in a way that’s purposeful.”

 

 

 

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